Basic cheapskate hacks

GaryE

Fish Herder
Joined
Oct 14, 2011
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
2,443
Location
Eastern Canada
So here I am, Senor Cheapo, with many many tanks. The question of affordability raises its head. Here are some tricks to consider.

1. Air driven filtration works, although it helps if you can hide the sponge or box filter with rocks or plants. One quality pump will run many tanks for years. One cheap pump will imitate the engine sounds of a WW1 aircraft and blow out in a year.

2. Plants (like fish) must be researched. Would you go into a car dealership and tell them to pick you a car? I hope not. Buy plants for your lighting.

3.Functional lighting for low light tanks can be found in hardware and salvage stores. Aquarium lights, like aquarium salt, are just lights. "Aquarium" is an adjective. "Aquarium safe" is an important phrase though, for anything that comes into contact with water. If you can happily set the lights up over your tank, go for it. One of my prettiest planted tanks ran off IKEA pendant lamps. You'll still probably want a good plant light ramp in time, but you can save up.

4. There are a million online recipes for quality homemade frozen foods tailored for the species you keep. Use google for your hobby.

5. If there is an actual, physically meeting aquarium club in your area, get off your duff and go.

6. Never buy a fish without researching its maximum adult length. You don't plan to kill it, and if it will outgrow your tank, that will be very expensive or very cruel.

7. Find out where your fish are from. Research the water temperatures there. With a little creativity, it can be done. You will probably find you are keeping them at their maximum summer temps. The hobby seems to suggest very warm temps, and that costs to maintain. I saw a beautiful species I had a tank for a couple of weeks ago, but when I researched it (on my phone), its baseline temperature was higher than my room temperature, and I avoid heaters. I have a room I heat, with a closed door, for my many tanks. So I didn't get the fish. Simple.

8. Never cut corners on water changing, food quality or tank size. Dead fish, constantly replaced are not the goal.

9. Glass can be cut, and quality tops can be made for a reasonable cost. You can learn to cut glass yourself, too.

10. Remember that paying up front, while it hurts a cheapskate like me, can get you better equipment that lasts forever. I'm running a linear piston air pump that can power 30 filters. I paid $200 for it (ouch) but I paid that in 2006, and it's been running 24/7 since, with no stopping. I was once given a box of 10 new diaphragm pumps that retailed for about $30 each, and not one made 5 years, or could be effectively repaired. And a power filter that doesn't give you 15 years in a rip off.

11. If you ever write a post like this, read the suggestions other people add to the thread.
 
Last edited:

TwoTankAmin

Fish Aficionado
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
4,857
Reaction score
496
Location
USA- NY
Cutting glass not a good idea. it leaves sharp edges. In a glass shop they have a grinder to smooth those edges. If you leave them unsmoothed you will cut your fingers sooner or later.

There are also quality diaphragm pumps. Check out Jemco.com. They sell it all, but not the cheap stuff=, the site is geared to people with fish rooms. I have three of their diaphragm pumps running for some time. They also sell the replacement kits for the diaphragms.

Finally remember this: In the long run, the cheapest solution tends to be the one which costs the most up front.
 

sharkweek178

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Aug 3, 2022
Messages
168
Reaction score
95
Location
Pittsburgh
And since we're taking "cheapskate", if you use test strips, I just learned that you can cut them down the middle and double your supply.
 

WhistlingBadger

Professional Cat Herder
Staff member
Global Moderator
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
4,377
Reaction score
6,665
Location
West of center
Cutting glass not a good idea. it leaves sharp edges. In a glass shop they have a grinder to smooth those edges. If you leave them unsmoothed you will cut your fingers sooner or later.
Wear leather gloves when cutting, then rub the edges with a little sand paper until it's smooth. No big deal. You can get glass cutters on Amazon or at hardware stores, and they are surprisingly easy and safe to use. Just follow the directions.
 

WhistlingBadger

Professional Cat Herder
Staff member
Global Moderator
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
4,377
Reaction score
6,665
Location
West of center
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (the unscented/chemical free kind) are great for removing algae and other gunk from glass and hardscape. Expired credit cards are excellent for removing tougher kinds of algae (like BBA) from glass.
 
OP
OP
GaryE

GaryE

Fish Herder
Joined
Oct 14, 2011
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
2,443
Location
Eastern Canada
Expired credit cards are excellent for removing tougher kinds of algae (like BBA) from glass.
Expired credit cards are also good for keeping you away from the saltwater hobby.

Jehmco costs up front but saves a fortune in the long run. My air pump is from them - a linear piston, not a diaphragm pump. Even with duty and international shipping, they paid off fast.

1 sided painter's razor blades are great tools. Dollar store turkey basters rule. Pothos are great filtration aids. Now is the season for free botanicals - collect alder cones and scope out where the oak trees are.
 

WhistlingBadger

Professional Cat Herder
Staff member
Global Moderator
Tank of the Month!
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
4,377
Reaction score
6,665
Location
West of center
Expired credit cards are also good for keeping you away from the saltwater hobby.

Jehmco costs up front but saves a fortune in the long run. My air pump is from them - a linear piston, not a diaphragm pump. Even with duty and international shipping, they paid off fast.

1 sided painter's razor blades are great tools. Dollar store turkey basters rule. Pothos are great filtration aids. Now is the season for free botanicals - collect alder cones and scope out where the oak trees are.
I used to use razor blades, but scratched the daylight out of my tank when dealing with a BBA outbreak. I like credit cards better.

Have never tried pothos as filters, but plan to on my South America tank if the nitrates ever get high. (Actually I'll probably use syngonium, since it fits the biotope. Same difference) Rachel O'Leary did a video one time where she put pothos in one of her tanks, and it sucked up so many nutrients that it killed off all her carefully cultivated mosses and algae. Too much of a good thing!
 

kiko

Fish Fanatic
Joined
Feb 13, 2022
Messages
182
Reaction score
82
Location
Toronto, Canada
I just use a dremel to smooth edges on glass before I dare to use my finger on it while spreading silicone
as for sand any construction depot will do
 

Most reactions

trending

Staff online

Top